The countdown to 2013

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[Image credit: Danilo Rizzuti]

Three-fourths of the year is already over, and if I don’t replace the two dreams I had planned to accomplish in 2012 which an injured ankle derailed, I am entering the final stretch of the year with only six more goals to tackle.  All in all, I feel pretty good about what I’ve done and what remains to be worked on.  Even if I’m not able to cross everything off my list, I’m still glad I had plans in place.  It gave me a purpose to strive for beyond the everyday tasks and mundane chores and errands I easily get bogged down with.  Besides, now I know that some things can come off my list for 2013, while others can remain.  And I’ve already jotted down a couple of goals I hope to address at the beginning of the year.  Oh, I know the best laid plans are just that.  But it’s fun to have something to look forward to.

Do you think you’ll set goals for 2013?

Grammar lesson #18: compliment or complement

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Compliment and complement are two words that can confuse even me.  The definition of compliment is an expression of praise, admiration or congratulations; whereas, complement means something that completes, makes up a whole or brings to perfection.  An easy way for me to remember which spelling to use in my sentence is to think about taking the initiative to praise someone.  If I am personally telling someone he or she did a great job or is looking nice, for example, then I use the word with the “i” in it (compliment).  For instance: Her execution of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony deserved a compliment.  Otherwise, something that makes a person or thing look good, completes or perfects it, uses the word complement; i.e., It was easy to see that the couple’s individual strengths complemented each other.  

How do you remember which word to use in your sentence?

What you don’t know


[Image credit: kornnphoto]

When I was in school and living at home, my mom made an apple crisp that was tasty, yet seemed “different.”  The apple slices were longer and narrower than those of a normal apple.  When I questioned her about it, she adopted a cute little smirk and, after a little prodding, admitted it was because the apple slices were really zucchini slices.  Unfortunately, as soon as I knew it wasn’t an apple crisp, with no justification I automatically didn’t like it.  This past weekend, I made a baked pasta dish my daughter grew up eating, but this time I prepared it with gluten-free rotini and offered it to her without sharing that tiny difference.  She ate the whole serving, praising its yumminess, and ended up consuming a healthy, home-cooked meal.  What she didn’t know, didn’t hurt her.  Moreover, it was actually good for her.  That may be a smart way to look at life.

Would you rather know every little detail, or leave some things to the imagination?

Eye of the storm

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[Image credit: Photokanok]

It’s difficult when you find yourself in a situation where nothing you do or say can change the outcome.  Perhaps the only thing to do is accept it’s for the best.  Second-guessing or talking until you’re blue in the face might prove to be counterproductive.  Besides, your energy may be better spent on dusting off your tattered pride and doing something good for someone else.  Karma, the Golden Rule, loving your neighbor as yourself — whatever it means to you.   And once you get past the disappointment, betrayal or hurt, it’s also easier to remember that when one door hits you in the rear end, another one is waiting for you to walk through and claim the better prize.  I’m not saying that’s an easy feat, especially when you’re right in the middle of the storm.  But when you’re focusing on how to save yourself from drowning, you just may discover an inner resolve you never knew you possessed.

What do you do when there’s nothing left to do?

No (wo)man is an island

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[Image credit: Evgeni Dinev]

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
~ John Donne

I need community — the group at church or Yoga, my small office, the friends I handpick or my family — a place I belong.  People who believe in and support me, the ones who provide the strength I draw upon when times are tough and who prove to be my biggest cheerleaders when life is charmed.  The older I become, the more I cannot imagine being alone for an extended period of time.  And I’m glad I don’t have to be.

What does your community look like?

A sneak peek

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[Image credit: farconville]

Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.
~ Paul Theroux

When it comes to reading, I typically select fiction.  I think it’s easier to escape into someone else’s imagination, made-up places and people and events.  And other times, nonfiction helps me relate or be encouraged by another person’s real-life trials and triumphs.  When it comes to writing, however, I tend to stick with the former but draw on real life to fuel the hopes and dreams that make up the second chances Theroux talks about.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re denied a certain life — unless it is through circumstances beyond our control that we find ourselves in the place we’re standing.  But I think if we allow it, fiction enables us to try our ideas on for size before Someday rolls around.  A sneak peek, if you will.  Or a second chance without life’s inevitable risks and no regrets.  How cool is that?

What’s your passion: fiction or nonfiction and why?

Word-of-the-month: demulcent (n., adj.)

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[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

September’s word-of-the-month — demulcent (pronounced de-mul-cent) — is an adjective, and a noun, depending on the context of the sentence.  According to the Free Online Dictionary, demulcent as a noun means “a soothing, usually mucilaginous or oily substance, such as glycerin or lanolin, used especially to relieve pain in inflamed or irritated mucous membranes.”  Synonyms include medication and medicinal drug.  Used in a sentence, it may read: After he pulled the tooth, the dentist applied the demulcent to the patient’s inflamed gums to relieve her discomfort.  As an adjective, the word translates to soothe, soften or mollify.  Synonyms include salving and emollient.  A sample sentence may look like this: The ointment acted as a demulcent to her dry, chapped lips.  

What’s your favorite demulcent to soothe inflamed or injured skin?

Starting at square one

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[Image credit: tungphoto]

I’m always standing up for the underdog.  Or the “old dog.”  If you followed my journey as a nontraditional student, you’re familiar with my mantra that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I see the proof of that in what I’ve accomplished since returning to college and graduating the same day my daughter finished with high school.   Maybe not a lot of new tricks in the scheme of things, but I’ve learned a great deal.  And I’m still learning.  For instance, in a Yoga posture clinic yesterday, I realized it’s okay to start over from square one to get a pose right rather than hurry along my progress and potentially injure myself.  I also learned it’s important to slow down inside of class — with my breathing and postures — making it easier to take my time outside of class to process what’s going on around me instead of simply reacting.  And most importantly, I was reminded Yoga is practice.  Like life.

What lesson(s) have you learned lately?

The here and now

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[Image credit: m_bartosch]

My oldest sister regularly sends me “snail mail” care packages.  Sometimes these mailings include a card; other times articles, recipes, devotionals or cartoons.  A recent blurb she clipped out for me was “Living in the Here and Now,” which talked about focusing on … well … the here and now.  I frequently cover this concept in my posts when I get carried away with my dreams for Someday and lose sight of Today. The article goes on to cite a few tips to help us appreciate the present.  1) Avoid multitasking (oops, that’s my middle name) by giving our attention to either a person we’re with or job we’re doing; 2) pause by taking a breath before answering the phone or checking email; 3) listen to our bodies because emotions can trigger physical responses; 4) remain active … and involved; 5) scratch the to-do list (did you hear that, Franklin?) and 6) be patient — this doesn’t happen overnight.

How are you at living in the here and now?

The biggest loser

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Last week I beat myself up over a mistake I inadvertently made.  I felt like the “biggest loser,” only not the kind who lost weight on national TV.  I think one of the reasons it hit me so hard was because I had prepared a failsafe after something similar happened.  Only I had not considered someone else dropping the ball.  It turns out another pin in the cog was responsible; however, if my failsafe had included that risk, the situation could have been prevented.  A revised plan is in place now, and I feel as ready for anything as I’ve ever been.  But even if I’m not, what matters is how I move on from something like that.  Wallowing in self-pity does nothing.  It was in proactively tracing the steps from start to finish that allowed me to find the breakdown in the process and repair it.  We’re human; mistakes are going to happen.   The important thing is learning from them.

How do you handle the inevitable mistakes?

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